Older blog entries for Johnath (starting at number 13)

my last semester of university

Pretty odd, finishing school (at least, formal schooling) but I'm trying not to have the standard crisis about it all and succeeding pretty well - I'm looking forward to starting with IBM, and looking forward to a new place to live.

A New Place. Amy and I have been talking about getting a place together. Dad also suggested that he could spring for downpayment, and we could split a condo. The former's been going through my head for longer, and the latter, well, I don't know if my pay would be enough for mortgage plus expenses. I guess there's also an independence thing there with moving in with Dad, but I feel no particular need to exert my independence, I'm comfortable enough with it, and dad is one of the more sane roommates I could envision. Still, he needs to find a place ASAP, and I'm still meandering on the path to insight, so I think he will find a place of his own, and I will get used to the notion that a 22 yr old shouldn't expect to be able to stomach a $160,000 mortgage plus maintenance fees straight outta senior year.

Last semester is going to do weird things to my brain, hacking wise. Only taking one CS course, and it's really more of an AI course - Natural Language Processing. They're teaching it in perl, which feels strangely right for some reason - and you have to respect a course one of whose textbooks is The Camel. Couple that with the fact that I will be re-acquanting myself with all of Java, in anticipation of IBM work, and you make for an interesting term. Of course, I'm taking other courses too - Intermediate and Advanced Symbolic Logic oughta be fun, Minds and Machines definitely will be, and one cannot go wrong with Philosophy of Science.

I will be TA'ng again. Java, again. What can I say, I like teaching that course. I'm guessing the students will be suitably impressed to hear that Java can get you a good job - seems they come in treating it like a toy language. Show me another toy language with excellent crypto, DB connectivity and multithreading support.

I wonder if other people reading these diaries get irked, and feel that diaries at advogato should really be hacking- related only. I hope not, if so, I apologize, but will probably keep writing here, as the spirit moves me. Maybe as school finishes and work begins, my life will automatically become more hacking-oriented; in the meantime I hear it's good to have a life too. :)

#include <boy_it's_been_a_while>

Done half of my exams, two more to go. So sleepy. I've spent 14 of the past 48 hours marking CSC108 - Introduction to Programming (in Java) exams. I think some of my favourites were:

  • if (x != x) break;
  • public String toString() { return "My name is " + toString(); }
  • and the winner:
    String line = in.readLine();
    if(line.equals(line.indexOf(line))) {...}

So now I am very tired - but happily so - it has been an excellent week.

I accepted the IBM offer on Thursday. I am a proud new member of the IBM Toronto Lab's Application Development Technologies group, or will be, when school releases me from its kung-fu grip.

Thursday was also dad's birthday, which was cool since I got to see him again, and since the steak dinner was insanely great.

Thursday as well, Dad told me that I could pick up a digicam for myself as graduation present. Specifically, he told me I could pick up the FujiFilm 4700 Zoom, which is a gorgeous little piece of machinery, and 4.1 megapixels is once again, insanely great - I'll take octagonal CCD over rectangular any day.

This week my group of friends, who tend to keep in touch through an irc channel, migrated our channel over to openprojects.net, where things are just excellent. lilo, it turns out, is very helpful as an IRCop, and the random wanderers coming into the channel make for some excellent conversations.

And finally - I began teaching myself ML last night (as a result of one such conversation). What a pretty language.

6 Dec 2000 (updated 6 Dec 2000 at 06:40 UTC) »

I didn't get to sleep in today. The phone woke me. The phone call, from IBM woke me. The phone call from IBM offering me a job woke me. Actually, the phone call from IBM offering me three jobs woke me. So I didn't mind being woken up. :)

Seriously, I am quite jazzed about this. I have to decide now between ECD (E-Commerce Development), DB2 Tools Development, or Application Development Technology. The offer's the same any way I choose to slice it, and it's a pretty attractive offer I think, coming straight outta undergrad. The offer from Eyal (my psych prof) still beats it by about $20k, but there are a lot of other benefits to working with IBM. I have 2 weeks to choose.

Three days left in school, and in them I have to mark two batches of assignments, write a test, an exam, a knowledge rep. assignment, and a 50% term paper (which I should start). It's going to be lotsa fun - but that's okay - I derive some perverse joy from making my brain sweat. Months later, when I look back on what I did, I will say, as I always do, "I wrote THAT? I couldn't write that now - where did I get that from?"

Courses finishing up is kind of a shame - I had several very cool profs this semester, but on the other hand, sleep - long, undisturbed sleep, will be ever so sweet.

Today in class my cell phone was ringing almost non-stop. Thank goodness for virbrate mode, even if it meant my pocket was buzzing intermittently.

Got several calls from the bank. It seems the line of credit that they approved for me was using a previously assignment account number, which would have been humorous, since I could write cheques with other people's money, but probably would have a downside. Unfortunately, as a result, I have to sign a whole other wack of forms. I hate signing Permission to Perform Credit Check docs, but hey, when other people are giving you money, they get to set the terms I guess, all you can do is agree or go without - all the more reason I should become insanely wealthy in short order.

On that note - more calls from IBM today.

[IBM] Hi, I'm calling to book another phone interview for you with Enoch Ng, from another department. And if possible, there is a fourth department that would like to talk with you, possibly on the same day?

[ME] Uhh. Great! Sure! What?

[IBM] Oh, and I've been asked to tell you also that you will definitely be getting a job offer from us for some department, we just don't know which yet, You have a job here, if you want it.


Second last week of school, and barring head injury, I think I might get through it all. This has been a heavy duty semester, but I so thoroughly grok logic these days. I actually meant that as a positive thing. :)

28 Nov 2000 (updated 1 Dec 2000 at 05:47 UTC) »

2 weeks left in school this semester, and at least one thing due every single day. Splendid. But it's keeping my brain working, so I can't complain - that is after all what I'm paying tuition for.

IBM called today and wanted me to tour the lab and meet the department heads who are interested in hiring me. But on a friday when I have an assignment to submit and a test to write, and they wanted me there for the whole day. I told them no-can-do and that this week and next were pretty full. The HR person said,

"Okay, well I'll talk to the department heads and see if they want to meet with you much later, or just go ahead without meeting you."

I wonder what that means. Amy tells me that it probably means "go ahead and offer you the job without meeting you" and not "go ahead and pass you by for someone who will bother to show up." She's probably right, but I'll still feel better if/when offers start rolling in.

Of course, for offers to start rolling in, my cable would have to hold out long enough for me to pick up email. Given last weekend's 48 hours of 0 connectivity, we'll see. Anyone know how long sendmail will keep trying johnath.com before it decides that I'm dead, and returns the message undeliverable?

I'll soon be in the market for a digicam. What with christmas and new years coming up, and what with a trip to Jamaica (!) on the reading week horizon, it'd be a good thing to have. Anyone have recommendations or warnings?

Today's Psychology Tip: Don't believe anything Margaret Boden tells you about creativity. She's nutty.

24 Nov 2000 (updated 24 Nov 2000 at 05:13 UTC) »

Nothing from IBM. But then, they have an email address for me @johnath.com which is attached to my currently recalcitrant cablemodem. Ah well - they can always just call me.

Today my gf of about 6 years went to a BNL (Barenaked Ladies) concert and won... a trip to Jamaica. (!!!) We think we'll go Reading week, but maybe wait till school's over. All expenses paid. Nice. I must buy a laptop.

I need Neal Stephenson's email address. Does anyone have it? Today I read a paper by Arjun Appadurai - probably the coolest anthropologist ever. His writing sounds like something right out of Snow Crash - and if Stephenson hasn't already read this guy, he really should. Neal, are you out there?

Jamaica. Woo!

PS - Amy. My girlfriend's name is Amy. She mentioned the other day that I never mention her in my diaries. Today she won me (us!) a trip to Jamaica. Her name is Amy. :)

Wednesday. And no early tutorial, so I got to sleep in. Which is good because I've been waking up early entirely too often the past few weeks.

Phone interview with IBM went pretty well I think,

[IBM] So have you been talking to a lot of other companies?
[Me] Well, not really, in truth, I'm kind of waiting to see whether I get a good offer from IBM. If I got something good, something competitive, from the Toronto Lab, I don't know if I'd need to look elsewhere.
[IBM - chuckling] Well I can pretty much guarantee you'll be receiving some offers from the Lab.

So that's probably positive.

More crazy people talking to themselves, and they're getting louder. I walked for three city blocks today behind a man raving in some English-French-Something(Maybe Gaelic?) pidgin language all his own. He was quite emphatic on several points. Quite an orator I'm sure, if he weren't loony as a toon. And later a woman followed me for about a block complaining, it seems, about the rampant corruption of my police escort (I do not, to the best of my knowledge, have a police escort to speak of, let alone a corrupt one).

This month's Dr. Dobbs looks good. The article on porting applications from solaris to linux taught me how the kernel stores executing process information, which made me remember an old program I had meant to write, that would allow you to hijack a process - re-direct it's stdin/stdout/stderr to your terminal. This looks like it might be difficult, but useful, so we'll see.

Lots of Scheme hacking this week for Knowledge Representation. I love Scheme.

21 Nov 2000 (updated 21 Nov 2000 at 02:22 UTC) »

Got email today from a senior development manager for DB2 at IBM's Toronto Lab. He wants a phone interview asap, it seems. We agreed on tomorrow at 8:30am - again with the early, early interviews. What's with this company?

Had lunch with President & CEO of Lucent Canada today. There were about 6 of us at the lunch, but only 3 or 4 of us said much. It was cool, talked to her for about 2 hours about the kind of stuff you talk about when introduced to the CEO of a tech company I guess - the tech boom, whether it will collapse, the expectations of new grads, etc. I would have dropped off a resume, but it wasn't really that kind of conversation, and besides, I don't have the kind of hardware and DSP background they'd really be looking for. It also wouldn't have felt appropriate, like it would have sullied our meeting to remind everyone that she stood in a 'potential-employer' relation to all of us.

I wonder if the websphere guys at IBM will get back to me. I was all getting myself psyched about Java again when the DB2 group calls. :)

It would be so very cool if ZKS responded to my application. Such a thoroughly cool company. I would take a job sweeping their floors.

PS - For those who might notice - I am now certified apprentice level. It took 21 certs, but I got there damnit. :) Thanks everyone. Now to earn 'Journeyer'...

Certification Update: The Gods of Advogato maintain their vigil - 20 certs and counting, still not an apprentice. :) I'm really not bitching, believe it or not, I actually think it's really neat to watch the complex behaviours that emerge from simple systems like the trust metric network flow calculators. Hrm, I guess maybe I'm bitching a little, but I'm trying to be good natured about it. :)

Next monday I'm having lunch with the President and CEO of Lucent Technologies Canada. That sounds really cool, but I don't know what to make of it - I was invited because she's a graduate from my university, and I'm a 'high acheiving student', but she's not really giving a talk or anything so, we'll see what happens. Too bad they aren't more into software.

Still nothing from IBM.

Lately I've noticed a sharp increase in the number of people I see talking to themselves. What's with that? Maybe the colder weather is inhibiting their seratonin reuptake.

Today on the walk home I figured out that if someone tells you that they have two coins, a regular one, and a double headed one, and that they chose one at random and flipped it 5 times and they all came up heads, then there's only a 2.9% chance that they chose the regular coin. I think I need less sleep.

14 Nov 2000 (updated 14 Nov 2000 at 07:49 UTC) »

I have now accepted that the Gods of Advogato (GoA) have used their trust metric and network flow mathematics to cleverly conceal their true purpose - which is that I alone must never be permitted to leave the Observer level. Like all paranoid delusions, this one has the handy side effect of making me feel important, since it would imply that the GoA are in some small way aware of my existence.

Told Dad about the interviews and tests and general we-think-you-might-be-useful sentiment from IBM yesterday, he seemed as excited as I was about it, maybe more. It would be pretty cool to work for Big Blue right outta undergrad, but everything's still very up in the air.

The psychology professor I work for has offered me $80k to work for his company writing the software to run his eye-tracking system. It's a pretty neat system, and I've worked with it as a user for 6 years, but I don't know if it could hold my interest as long as the myriad possibilities at IBM, or even just at the Toronto Lab, for which I interviewed. On the other hand, $80k out of undergrad is nothing at which to sneer, so we'll see.

No stress there though - I'm caught between a pillow and a soft place, to mangle a metaphor -- I'd be happy either way. Which reminds me - why are so many of these diary entries so bleak? I mean, I don't think it's naive to point out that most of the people maintaining diaries here are the people shaping the Net, arguably the single biggest revolution of the human experience since at least the printing press or radio, maybe the biggest ever. Everywhere I look there's fascinating information being produced at an explosive rate. Over-stimulated I can see, but bored I find difficult to understand.

Maybe I've just been reading too much Wired. :)

PS - I also feel it essential to note, for those of you that can appreciate such sentiment, that Description Logics, non-Monotonic Logics, Default Logics and Circumscription Logics can all collectively go suck a cow. Thank you.

4 older entries...

New Advogato Features

New HTML Parser: The long-awaited libxml2 based HTML parser code is live. It needs further work but already handles most markup better than the original parser.

Keep up with the latest Advogato features by reading the Advogato status blog.

If you're a C programmer with some spare time, take a look at the mod_virgule project page and help us with one of the tasks on the ToDo list!